Panthers coach Ron Rivera will miss Saturday and Sunday’s training camp practices at Wofford College to be with his family in Nevada as they mourn the death of his older brother, Mickey.
Mickey, who was three years older than his 53-year-old coaching brother, died Tuesday after a two-year fight with pancreatic cancer. A subdued Rivera addressed the media Thursday at the start of camp and talked about his brother’s spirit despite his odds.
“The one thing about it is, and just knowing who my brother was, it was never really about him. He just went out and worked hard,” Rivera said. “When you talk to someone who’s in a situation like he is and you see that he just keeps going forward and doing the best they can, you do draw inspiration from it. You draw strength because of everything that they go through, which is bad, your day can’t be that bad.”
Rivera wore a white T-shirt Thursday with words memorializing his brother. The shirt read: “You will never know how STRONG you are, Until being STRONG is the only choice! Team MJR.”
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Assistant head coach Steve Wilks will take the reins over the weekend until Rivera returns Monday. Wilks ran one of the organized team activities in the spring when Rivera went to California for his daughter’s graduation.
“We’ve got a plan in place,” Rivera said. “I’ve already talked to Steve, and we’ve talked about how we’re going to go forward. I’ll talk to a few of the veteran leaders just to make sure they understand and know where I’ll be and what’s to be expected in those two days.”